Ivan  Parkins

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©Ivan W. Parkins 2008,  All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins.  Use of any material requires permission of the author and can be obtained by contacting info@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

Front Page Archive 2008

Archive 2009

Page 2,  Disassemble the House

Page 3, Media Bias

Page 4, Book Reviews

Page 5, War and Their Costs

Page 6, Broken Congress

American Politics, Archives

Letter to the editor;  Morning Sun, 11/20/2004


Parker had correct assessment of what's wrong with Democrats


    Kathleen Parker was "right on" with her column in the Sunday, Nov. 14, edition, "Voters want sincerity, not fake values."

    In 1968, a year that I voted for the Democrat presidential candidate (my seventh and last instance of doing that), the party split badly over the war in Vietnam.  After losing that election, party leaders chose Senator McGovern to head a reformation of their "unfair" nominating process.  Shortly before the next nominating convention, THE U.S. NEWS on 6/12/72 reported a Gallup poll disclosing some results of the changes.  Of 13 categories (by region, race, job, education and age), Senator McGovern was the choice of Democrat voters in only one, those with more than four years of college.  Humphrey won 11 and tied with Wallace for the 13th.  But the reformed nominating process chose McGovern, who was an ex-professor and a Ph.D.  Nixon won that election by the largest popular plurality and one of the largest majorities in our history.

    Since 1972, Democrat presidential successes have been Carter, with 50.1 percent of the vote, and Clinton, the third man in our history to win twice without a majority either time.  (The other two were also Democrats, Cleveland and Wilson.)

    Shouldn't that history offer to America's self-anointed intellectual elite an alternative to blaming "mindless" followers of traditional values for election failures?


A foot note:  Hubert Humphrey, whose nomination for President in 1968, some people thought was so “unfair,” had  led most opinion polls of Democrats in that year .  Most showed him getting about two-thirds of those who identified with the party, about the same as his initial delegate count in the Chicago Convention.  I.W. Parkins 5/08




Front Page

Dividing America


By Ivan W. Parkins


(The following article was originally published in the Daily Times-News, 10/06/1971). You will notice some language usages at the time which were acceptable, but currently are not used due to cultural sensitivities.-Ed.)

             The Kerner Commission on civil disorders in its final report stated that, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.”  That evaluation has been quoted again and again.  Both the Johnson and the Nixon Administrations have been castigated for a lack of enthusiasm in accepting and implementing the report.

             The implication of the report and the charge bluntly levied by a militant minority of Americans, is that racial bigotry prevailing in the American public and intransigence existing in American institutions makes reductions of our racial tensions unlikely.  I am reminded that when I moved to Michigan, just after the Detroit riots of 1967, the more specific prediction , then popular in the press, was that more and bigger riots would soon follow.  I required one of my classes to write a brief paper discussing the capacity of the American political system to cope with the problem over the next five years.  To my chagrin, I discovered that very few of my own suggestions had been accepted by my students.  Almost unanimously, they echoed predictions of a holocaust borrowed from the news media.

             Arguing against “liberals” that a few riots did not foreshadow a race war was a new role for me.  I had moved from the South, where my arguments were chiefly with segregationists, many of whom cited sporadic violence and threats of violence as a reason why the civil rights movements should be halted.  Neither group seemed to be aware that race relations during much of American history, especially in the late nineteenth century, were more violent than during the recent civil rights movement.  Apparently, few people considered race relations in the perspective of violence which accompanied other great changes, such as the rise of labor unions.

             The violence of the civil rights movement thus far has been moderate, when taken in the perspective of history and considering the magnitude of the change.  Furthermore, there is growing  evidence of progress.  Economic gains, especially for the younger and more educated Negroes, are substantial.  Negro voting, and successes in winning political offices, have multiplied.  It is largely in the more subtle area of white-black attitudes toward one another that some people still claim to find bases for pessimism.

             Several major opinions polls in recent years have produced results suggesting that white attitudes are less bigoted and intransigent, and black expectations more moderate, than some journalists and intellectuals would have us believe.  Recently, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, probably the foremost center in attitudinal survey in the world has published confirmation that white and black attitudes are converging. 

             The quiet progress of school busing for integration purposes in most of the South is a visible refutation of the pessimistic evaluations of our people and our institutions.  The failure of most pessimists to support their arguments with solid evidence does not mean that there is no racial problem in America.  Samuel Lubell’s Hidden Crisis in American Politics provides both reasons for concern and some grounds for hope .  Lubell has been interviewing representative Americans in their homes while too many other journalists and academics were populating the country with Archie Bunkers, fictitious characters whose principal virtue is making intellectuals feel smugly superior.  Lubell found, not attitudinal bigotry, but specific problems of competition for housing and job opportunities, and fears for personal safety to be the roots of tension.  He attributed much of this to population mobility (southern farms to northern cities, cities to suburbs).  Such material problems pose difficult problems to American society; they do not imply degeneracy in the American character.

             Senator Fred Harris, himself a member of the Kerner Commission, referred in LOOK magazine (3/18/1969) to racism as “the number one mental health problem in America.”  Considering the failure of attitudinal surveys to support such evaluations, it is fair to inquire whether views such as those of Harris may not be both and impediment to racial understanding and an additional major cause of division in America.

Institutional Bias


Some decades ago, I pointed out to my American Government classes that the text we were using (the one most widely used in American colleges) gave very different treatments to two ex-governors who had recently been nationally prominent.  Otto Kerner, Democrat of Illinois, headed a commission that investigated urban violence and became famous for the statement that: “American is dividing into two nations, one black and one white, separate and unequal.  Kerner was appointed Judge of a U.S. Court of Appeals.  Our text treated Kerner and his work quite favorably.

             Vice President Agnew, Republican, and former Governor of Maryland, had made several public statements very critical of mass media new treatments and of campus demonstrations.  The text treated him much more severely.

             Soon after, both men were charged with corruption felonies committed during the times that they had been governors.  Agnew was forced to resign the Vice Presidency, accepted a plea bargain, and went to prison.  Kerner pled “not guilty” to more than a dozen charges, was convicted of them all, and also went to prison.  Kerner’s was a first for Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

             On matters of race relations there was some room for debate.  Regarding equal treatment for high ranking white officials, the publicity at least, was not equal. 

             How much of recent confusion vis-à-vis racial matters is actually, a product of the same disinformation system that evaluated Kerner and Agnew so differently?  Also, the late Senator Daniel Moynihan noted at the Kerner Commission had delayed publication of its own racial attitudes survey; it did not fit with the Commission’s conclusion.

I.W. Parkins, 5/08

Ahead of the Curve,

My History in Institutional Bias


by Ivan W. Parkins


    From 1948 to 1955, I was an instructor in the political science department of the University of Akron.  Our department head was also Director of a, two-semester required “Introduction to Social Science”.  It was not popular with students and Professor Sherman, who had done most of the work including the lecturing himself, was tired of it.  He allowed me to take over nearly everything, including selecting text material, lecturing and examining.  One element that I inserted was a week of study on American race relations, it’s history, trends and continuing problems.  That, and some other issues, produced criticism by the Dean.  I responded by citing my sources for the racial portions, but was interrupted.  He was not questioning the material, he said, but such a topic was “too mature’ for young college students.  The course and I were both replaced by the University.

    In the early 1960’s at Jacksonville University, where I had become a tenured professor. I engaged, with the President’s approval, in public discussions and debates of several controversial subjects.  Race was probably the most heated one.  My continuance and pay there, along with those of other faculty, were approved for 1962-3 by a mere majority of the board of trustees.  And, that was after my three administrative superiors bet their jobs on it; also, after I had twice been interviewed by lawyers representing members of the board.  When I learned that all three of the administrators were leaving, I left too.

    For me, being a little “ahead of the curve” on matters of race was not a key to success.



Dividing America, Progressive Taxation

By Ivan W. Parkins


    Another of the greatest sources of social division in America, both historically and now, is differences between rich and poor.  Actually, American society is unusual for the now well-documented evidence of large and rapid changes as individuals move from one economic level to another- mainly upward, but also some down.  And most opinion polls do not show massive dissatisfaction with that system.

    Meanwhile, recent national economic studies, both here and abroad, demonstrate that cuts in taxes, especially those on gains from investments made in the economy, usually produce additions to both the total economy and to government revenue.

     It is revealing therefore, that so many of our politicians, especially leading Democrats favor tax increases.  Senator Obama has even commented that, regardless of economic merit, higher taxation of wealth is needed for reasons of justice.  I was once a supporter of such taxation, but for reasons that I believed to be, mainly, economic.  In today’s America, I can only view such a policy as crudely judgmental and divisive.  Coming from a candidate for the Presidency, especially from one claiming to be a unifier,  I regard it as blatantly naïve and/or deceptive.  

Establishment Clause

Ideological Applications


I agree with Theodore Roosevelt that when businesses or laborers combine into vast organizations it becomes the duty of government to see that they do not overpower small organizations and individuals.  By a somewhat similar line of reasoning, I approve of the First Amendment’s ban on establishment of a religion.  But, I also note that today, many educational, journalistic, and political action organizations are both huge and aggressive.  Furthermore, some of them foster ideological indoctrination that is not much different in its general nature from that of traditional churches.  Shouldn’t the Establishment Clause, as well as those words that guarantee free speech, press, etc, be applied to ideological organizations that claim not to be religious?

(The following “Letter to the Editor” appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 1997, and is a part of an ongoing illustration of the “Dividing of America” series of articles published over the last 40 years-Ed.)


Fearing the Future

By Ivan Parkins


    To John Tierney’s  excellent discussion, “Futurephobia”, the Times, Dec. 29, I would add two points of interpretation and one possible conclusion.

   First, intellectuals, especially the more literary types, have experienced in the 20th Century a technological displacement similar to that which the advent of photography

visited upon painters a few decades earlier.  Until quite recently, most of humanity had little contact with the world beyond those communities in which they lived.  With few exceptions, literacy and a literate minority held the keys to knowledge of the larger world.  But, in this century, public education, easy travel and population mobility, plus television and other burgeoning communication technologies, are depriving the literary intelligentsia of much of their once exclusive status-even as they gain wider audiences for their ideas.

    Second, the revolution in communication has encouraged in many people what I call a sophomoric illusion.  When first made aware of a world in which there are numerous unfamiliar hazards, we are all prone to believe that the world is becoming more dangerous.  Further study will usually help us to recognize that it is our vision and not the larger world that has changed most precipitously.  But many of our literary and opinion leaders encourage more passionate reactions rather than more careful inquiries.

    Why is phobia regarding the future so widespread?  Does not a literary-intellectual minority have a selfish interest in promoting fear of the real world, a world in which knowledge is increasingly available, and from a widening variety of sources?



Dividing America

(The following articles are part of an ongoing series addressing the divisive nature of Democrat policies over the last few decades)